What’s Happened To Ramon Sessions?

Darius Soriano —  May 15, 2012

The Lakers have struggled these playoffs to find any sort of rhythm. After 8 games they’re 4-4, have a negative scoring margin, and negative efficiency differentials. And while countless words have been devoted to (literal) front line issues like Bynum’s inconsistent effort and Pau’s up and down play, there’s another key Laker that hasn’t been performing up to a suitable standard.

Ramon Sessions first playoff experience hasn’t been very good so far. In 254 minutes of action he’s shooting 36.8% from the field, only made 4 of his 21 three pointers, is 2nd on the team in assists to Kobe (while assisting on fewer than 20% of the baskets while he’s on the floor), and posting a single digit PER (9.8). These numbers represent a staggering decline from his regular season production. Said another way, in these playoffs, he’s shooting worse and has a lower PER than Steve Blake while only dishing out .8 assists more per game than the man that backs him up.

Needless to say, the Lakers need more from Sessions and they need it quickly. Sessions issues seem multi-faceted, however, so improving on his play is going to take a concerted effort.

Throughout his career and in his first 15 games (or so) with the Lakers, Sessions was asked to run a team where he’d be a key factor in every offensive possession. He was given the freedom to push the ball up the floor to seek his own shot, then pull back and run multiple P&R’s in order to try and create off the dribble if there wasn’t a clear alley to the rim. He had the green light to be as aggressive as he saw fit with very few consequences for a quick or poor shot.

When he first came to the Lakers, this approach was a breath of fresh air. His blazing speed and ability to turn the corner in isolation or P&R sets gave the Lakers an added dimension they’d lacked with Fisher or Blake running the offense. Simply put, Sessions was a creator while the Lakers’ other PG’s were initiators.

As the season advanced, though, Sessions was asked to pull back. His teammates started to make comments about playing at a slower tempo to accommodate the pace Gasol and Bynum are most comfortable playing at. He was shifted to the starting lineup and then had more mouths to feed, integrating his on-ball style with Kobe while still running a post-centric offense. More and more he was running half-court sets that didn’t involve P&R’s for himself, but rather sets that asked him to either initiate an action via a pass to Gasol that flowed into him being a screener and a stop up shooter or for him to keep his dribble high while Kobe ran off picks to get free for a catch and shoot jumper or an isolation.

And in the playoffs, it’s been more of the same. Against Denver, controlling the pace and tempo was seen as the Lakers biggest key to controlling the series. Denver didn’t have the size to play with the Lakers bruising style and the Lakers didn’t have the speed or depth to play the Nuggets’ up and down game. So, the Lakers focused on playing a half court game where each possession would be milked while probing for the best possible shot. Getting the ball into the post was the priority. As the Nuggets double teamed the bigs and left the Lakers’ wings open to shoot jumpers, the Lakers didn’t adjust by taking those looks (Sessions included) but rather tried harder to infiltrate the low post via entry passes through crowded windows.

In the process of turning down open jumpers and playing at a slower pace, Sessions’ game seems so far removed from what it was just a couple of months ago he’s nearly unrecognizable as a player. Yes, he’ll still have a nice drive to the rim on a possession or two and a handful of times he’ll run some P&R’s that involve him and a big man in which he tries to penetrate the D and create a good look for himself or teammate, but these aren’t primary sets for the Lakers.

And so far against the Thunder – granted, it’s only been one game – things haven’t changed. Sessions isn’t attacking and creating, he’s barely even probing and feeling out the D. Instead he’s mostly walking the ball up, looking to get the Lakers into their sets, and then either screening for a teammate or drifting around the perimeter where he becomes a spot up shooter. These simply are not Sessions strengths.

At this point, though, turning things around isn’t as clear cut as it may seem. The Lakers could play faster and could incorporate more actions that play to Sessions’ strengths – classic P&R’s and cleared out sides for isolations for starters. But by committing more to Sessions would they be taking away possessions from their big three? Would a change in style that suits Ramon better stand in opposition to what Gasol and Bynum inherently prefer?

The answers to these questions aren’t straight forward. What is, however, is the fact that the Lakers must find a better balance in style that helps Sessions find his game. Because right now he’s not the upgrade the Lakers traded for; he’s not the same player he was in those first weeks of his Laker career. And to beat the Thunder – or just make this series closer than it has been so far – that’s the player they need.

Darius Soriano

Posts

75 responses to What’s Happened To Ramon Sessions?

  1. When Lakers first got Sessions he was the change of pace player. He’d come in and bring a whole different dimension. Speed, fast breaks, PnR, excitement. Now he’s been turned into steve blake. A statue waiting for the ball. He’s been a heck of a 6th man his whole career.

    He could still be the 6th man. Because putting him on the bench isn’t a position he’s unfamiliar with and you won’t be running an offense he’s uncomfortable with. Same with Blake he would do the same things he does coming off the bench. A spot up shooter. Waiting any longer to do such a move would be a sign of desperation. Now it would be a tactical move.

  2. This is what I’m talking about. If we’re going to ask him to play like Derek Fisher did, why act surprised when he *shock* plays like Derek Fisher did?

    It’s a classic case of trying to fit the square peg in a round hole. Not only is Sessions being asked to play more off-ball than his game is suited for, when he DOES get the ball, he’s told to defer and throttle his game, which in turn throttles his instincts.

    You wonder why he’s been second-guessing and hesitating on those open looks from downtown? There’s your answer. It’s sports psychology 101.

  3. Maybe consider bringing him off the bench again and have Blake start?

    I know it’s not good (and very Mike Brown-ish of me) to suggest a change in the rotation this late into the postseason, but sometimes adjustments are necessary.

    Prior to the trade, it was hypothesized that Blake would “fit” together with the starters better as far as playing styles went, and Sessions caught fire on the bench, resulting in his promotion.

    I think the coaching staff should look back and decide if that wouldn’t be a better option once again.

    This way, we can have Kobe cover Westbrook and “hide” Blake on Sefolosha at the beginning of games, even though it might tire out Kobe if he has to tail the speedster for a whole game. When Sessions comes in with Harden, Kobe can then switch onto James and Sessions onto Westbrook (although that is a disaster itself).

  4. Everything here’s on point. Do you sacrifice some of the bigs’ usage to run a more perimeter oriented game with Sessions, in the hopes that it loosens the interior defense up? Do you make the bigs play at a pace they might be less comfortable with, just to accommodate Sessions? No easy answers.

    On the plus side, we might be able to afford keeping him around. But if you’re committed to being a slow-paced, post-heavy team in the future, I’m not sure his style will ever mesh.

  5. It’s only been eight (8) post season games, Sessions first eight post season games…but it’s starting to appear that he’s not the answer to the Lakers point guard issues. Especially since he plans to opt out & become a restricted free agent seeking more than the $4.5+ million due him next season.

  6. Funky Chicken May 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Sessions was an upgrade at the point, but that was more a reflection of how bad the previous incumbent was. Don’t get me wrong, I like Ramon and think he’s a nice young player. He’s just totally wrong for this personnel.

    The challenge the Lakers have this round is the same challenge they had last round, and the same they’ll have in the next 2 rounds (in the alternate universe that has them going to the Finals). Moreover, it ‘s the same problem they will have next year too, unless they overhaul their starting lineup.

    Jerry West saw this coming. Two seven footers, particularly those who aren’t youthful and athletic, absolutely guarantee that you cannot be successful in an up and down tempo. No pairing of 7-footers can keep up with breakneck pace. So, to defend against exhaustion and terrible transition defense, the Lakers have and will continue to slow the tempo to the point of walking the ball up the court. That’s not Sessions’ strong suit.

    In fact, Laker management had it exactly right this offseason. Chris Paul is precisely the guy they needed. He’s able to play at the modern NBA’s tempo if needed, but can also control the pace of the game and totally dominate in the half court. And he can shoot.

    No Laker team that includes Andrew Bynum is going to win a title unless they get an elite PG who can operate effectively in the half court, and who can shoot the ball at a high percentage. It’s not a knock against Drew to say that he can’t play an up and down style; it’s just a fact.

    If Ramon cannot take and make jumpers with any consistency, the Lakers will probably not win more than one game in this series.

    By contrast, OKC has THREE guys who can do things that no Laker (not even Kobe at this point) can do: shoot from distance, put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim, or pull up for a mid-range shot. Durant, Westbrook and Harden can all do that.

    Kobe is the Lakers’ only guy who can normally do it, but we will see in this series what Denver saw with Afflalo last series: a SG who is so worn out from playing defense on the opposing team’s best player that he’s got nothing left on offense…..

  7. Or, Snoopy – bring him off the bench as a sparkplug, but play him closer to starter minutes. That way, his playing time overlaps more with Barnes’, and earlier in the season, the chemistry between the two of them was great. Look at us, we’re talking basketball in the middle of the day when we should really be scrubbing in on a cool surgery. Shame on you.

  8. This is the reason I didn’t think it was wise to move Sessions to the starting Lineup. His skill set doesn’t mesh with the 2 Big men (especially Bynum). TO resolve this issue, the Lakers need to go to a 10 man rotation and let McRoberts play with Hill or Pau on the 2nd unit. If sessions is allowed to probe OKC’s defense it will rattle them and possibly get easier shots. As it is right now Westbrook doesn’t have to work on Defense and the OKC bigs are doing what they really want to do, (Play half Court defense against Bynum and Pau). We r playing right into their hand. Mike Brown needs to make adjustments.

  9. I’m not one to blame the officiating, and I don’t think it would have made a whit of a difference in Game 1 even though I think it was a very poorly called game.

    But – the Lakers are going to be hard-pressed to win even a game or two if the officials aren’t going to allow you to breathe on Harden/WB/KD while at the same time allowing a much more physical brand of defense to be played on the other end. The FT differential last night was telling in that OKC took 29 even though they took the vast majority of their shots from outside, and when the Lakers are actually quite adept at not fouling.

  10. Here’s a fun game. Take notes as to when Bynum/Gasol reach the paint after a defensive rebound. Oftentimes, they’re not in the paint until 10-12 seconds have been erased from the clock. Then there’s the dribbling around the perimeter. Then the bigs get the ball with 7 seconds, to which Pau then kicks back to Kobe with 2 seconds.

    This is why banking on the 2 7 footers (without Odom this year) was a plan destined to fail.

  11. I agree with 5x. What did we like with Ramon on his first three games with the Lakers? Speed in penetration which Lakers severely lacked from those departing players like Fisher, Kapono and Walton. What happened to Ramon along the way? He injured his shoulder which slowed him down tho’ he was still playing. This time he was asked to slow down and wait for two bigs to catch up and get to their assigned tasks.

    Well, tsk, tsk, the hare has to wait for the tortoises to catch-up. Ramon Sessions got entangled with the Aesop fable. He gave way and wait for the Superstars to get aligned before executing. He wasted 10 seconds dribbling, dribbling and now only 14 seconds to find the open man. Still, weaving, weaving in the perimeter, he is now looking for Kobe like the others. Then, he becomes a bystander in the middle to help in transition defense.

    By this time, Ramon Sessions is now acting the same as his predecessors. He is now like Fisher in the recent past or Shannon Brown last season. They were cautioned and asked to make adjustments by becoming perimeter shooters instead of speedsters. It suits Fisher but not with Brown and Sessions who are gung-ho on fast breaks.

    Therefore, Ramon Sessions becomes “D’Fish Reload” in his new career after the shoulder injury. Playoffs time, he is more confused as ever to deal with 2 PG’s in facilitating or expected to excel as perimeter gunners.

  12. Simply Put: He’s being asked to play in a system that’s not conducive to his skill set. He’s an attack Point Guard who needs the ball in his hands to be effective. To have him play Off the Ball is the equivalent to WASTING his talent. This is not to excuse his dreadful performance thusfar in this years playoffs, his 1st, but that’s the reality of the situation. Basically, he’s being Handcuffed.

  13. This summer the Lakers are going to have to decide what kind of team they will be going forward. It is clear having two lumbering 7 footers is no longer the way. Having three guys posting up is too much skill overlap. Since they are going the more traditional (non-Triangle) route they need to embrace it fully. No matter if they keep Sessions or not, whoever the PG is, he needs to be in complete control of the floor. He needs to be setting the tone not adjusting to it.

  14. 14. T Rogers. It’s actually 4 guys posting up from the starting lineup (Pau, Bynum, Kobe, and MWP). That’s way too much.

    We need a 3 point shooting SF, a mobile PF who can cover PnR. I have names, but will wait until the offseason to discuss.

  15. I have a solution, but Brown would never try it. Move Sessions to the bench. Not as a demotion. But Blake’s game is better suited to working with Pau, Bynum, and Kobe. Then bring Sessions off the bench with younger faster, energy guys – Blake, Hill, even McRoberts. This gives a second wave off the bench that is closer to what the Bench Mob did in their best days.

  16. I have names, but will wait until the offseason to discuss.
    ——————————–
    Hate to say it, but if that’s the case, I guess you’ll be discussing/revealing those names by early next week.

  17. That’s Barnes of the bench with Sessions, not Blake. Typo.

  18. The bigs are slow on offense and defense. Sessions is not the problem. He just makes it more obvious as DY noted in the lost time on offense. Defense is no different. When the bigs don’t rotate or react to P&R, we get killed. Bynum was on the bench when we came back to beat OKC. Bynum and Pau need to step it up. And if shots are not falling, the pgs need to get creative by taking shots closer to the basket or penetrating and forcing defenders to commit.

  19. Good post by Darius and good comments. IMO Sessions needs to attack and be a threat, even if it cuts into the Big 3′s USGs.

  20. from #5 – “Sessions was an upgrade at the point, but that was more a reflection of how bad the previous incumbent was.”

    i find it a waste of time to “accommodate” RS. and lately, watching him “freeze” clueless on the court, reminded me of this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5-A8Ao47nU

    “a bona fide scrub, he can’t play (beyond running the floor and floaters), he does not know what he’s doing, he has no game, plays no defense, does not have the heart or the passion.”

    and in the Playoffs, all this is magnified!

    if the Lakers re-sign this guy, Luke’s 6 year contract will look like a bargain. and we just got rid of that by bringing in RS who expires!

  21. I personally think the analysis is incorrect that the Lakers should be looking to play as slow as snails on every possession – and I said it in the Denver series as well.

    Pace like that shows fear – and the other teams feed off it.

    Let Sessions play his game. If #17 can’t keep up – then sit him down. My bet is if #17 plays a few less minutes, he can try harder to get up and down the court and make a real difference in those minutes.

    Plus, it will take less pressure of Kobe to be the Only perimeter creator, and will make the Lakers offense far less predictable. I know Pau will hustle up and down the court – and if Hill is on the Court as well, then you have a much faster frontline.

    Relegating the Lakers to the slowest offense in the history of basketball is also why the Lakers can’t come back from big deficits – there possessions take 24 seconds and a ton of energy – whereas Denver/OKC will throw it up and the rim (and be streaky), but be able to in the meantime fight their way back into games.

    If we wanted to continue to play so slow – we should’ve just kept Fisher.

  22. i’m not sure if there is a case study available, but

    is there any other game in the second round of the playoffs in History of the NBA that started with a PG turnover?

  23. From a different angle who’s to blame Sessions for not attacking or Brown for not putting him in position to succeed? A easy thing to do is simply call a play for him not matter which lineup is in. Brown can share blame in this as well.

  24. Cdog,

    The flip side of that is Bynum is the only front court player who can consistently score against OKC. If you are taking him (and Pau) out of their games then guys like Blake, MWP, Kobe, and Ramon have to more than make up for it. Outside of Kobe, none of those guys would ever be mistaken scoring machines. And even Kobe struggles against OKC’s perimeter defenders.

    That is the rub here. The team has to pick its poison. They may as well give it a try in game two. At this point what do they have to lose? I’m just not sure it will make a difference though.

  25. While it’s a good idea to let Sessions loose and dominate the ball offensively and push the ball. Your asking a lineup who’s been post centric for 5 years to suddendly change. That’s not likely. The smart thing to do is let Sessions loose with the bench. It’s the only way for him to play his game and nobody else’s game suffers in the process.

  26. @ T. Rogers – That’s exactly my point.

    Sure #17 can consistently score on the Thunder – just like he could consistently score on Denver – but it takes a lot for it to happen.

    1. He needs to rush up to the court on offense (that doesn’t happen often) +
    2. He needs to get the ball with deep post position – because he has no outside game or driving skills.

    The doubles that teams are sending after the Lakers try to get #17 the ball with less than 10 seconds left on the shot clock have been leaving the Lakers in a big predicament. Either Bynum’s gotta jack one up over a double team – or the guards are playing hot potato with only a few seconds left on the shot clock.

    And if #17 is the guy taking the shot – it also means (1) he’s not in great rebounding position (he’s got two defenders on him) and (2) he is absolutely that last one back on the defensive end.

    When plays were run for Shaq in that regard – the game was different, because Shaq drew a ton of fouls. Drawing fouls means the other team can’t run on you. #17 prefers the fadeaway over the hard move to the basket, so less fouls are drawn.

    Allowing Ramon to use his best skill – and initiate earlier offense – will allow a “hustling” #17 to get in better position for (1) rebounds and (2) earlier post of opportunities.

  27. For the record, I agree with the comments above that Sessions should be moved to the bench so that he can get more run with Barnes and Hill. Let those guy run around a bit when they get in the game together. Let them create some havoc. Just like a wiely old pitcher, since the Lakers don’t have their A+ stuff anymore, maybe they need to work in more change of pace pitches, keep the other team off balance. That could disrupt the Thunder’s defensive schemes/gameplan and give the bench some much-needed confidence to fly around and play their game. Plus, as the commentors above have noted, Blake looks much more comfortable with the starting lineup. What are the chances that Coach Brown actually changes the lineup at this stage of the season, though?

  28. I thought Sessions should have been the backup PG from the beginning. There was much debate of FB&G about this back then. Even though he would be coming off the bench, he would still get the lion’s share of PG minutes. This is not a knock on him. His skill set fits better with being a change of pace than it does with the starters. However, he was brought in to be the starting PG. He will remain a starter because to move him to the bench will be received as a demotion. The chance of Coach Brown moving him to the bench is near zero.

  29. This thread is amusing to me. Many posts that state we are putting Sessions into a Fish like role; Further posts that state that Sessions should not be starting; Further posts that say we are playing slow, just like we did with Fish.
    Did we not trade Fish specifically so we would be faster, and specifically so Sessions could start without protests from Fish/KB? Then again – maybe those were not the reasons, perhaps we felt we had too much team leadership, and clutch spot up shooting.

  30. I really don’t like the Heat, however I am rooting for them at this point. I already mentioned this a couple times, but this season could get a lot worse if it goes green. And so far the sea has been parting for them: Favorable first round match up, Rose gets hurt, Bosh gets hurt ……
    I know – we are still playing. However, if we get beat, it will be too much for me watching Boston play a banged up Heat (much less Indiana) in the ECF.

  31. Right now Westbrook is running free and barely using up any energy. He doesn’t have to guard anyone, and on offense he’s just coming off picks into smooth midrange J’s. At his best, Sessions could put pressure on Westbrook and possibly get him to pick up a few fouls and disrupt his rhythm.

    Great read: http://nba-point-forward.si.com/2012/05/15/okc-exploits-andrew-bynums-weakness/

  32. Robert,

    We’re posting what we saw on the court – the speedy Sessions turned into the tentative Sessions. It has to be his blending to half court set up as prescribed by the Coach to feed down low. As a result, his speed becomes a sporadic offense.

    I wonder do the Coaching Staff have any hybrid ideas that will utilize the Speedy Sessions mixing it up with Ramon as the Court General.

    How come in other teams the slow big and fast pg work well in combination Duncan/Parker; Collison/Hibbert; Rondo/KG. My conclusion, Ramon is confused on what instructions out there or this is his first playoffs?

    Is it too late to ask for creativity in coaching? If you let the starters talk it out since they’ve seen talking a lot lately, I think RS will find his mojo.

  33. They really need to trust and unleash Sessions. More P&Rs, let him run the ball up and probe, only resetting if he finds nothing. Sure theres a bit of a danger in reducing big man touches by speeding up, but what kind of touches are those? Right now the ‘touches’ the big men are getting are getting them double teamed in a slow halfcourt offense by an athletically superior Thunder squad. ‘Stirring the drink’ as Dwyer says about Rondo would help us a great deal cause right now our beverage is festering.

  34. When one of the 7-footers is out of the game the Lakers can push the ball down the floor to probe for early offense. The 7-footer can stay back a la Kareem during Showtime. If the fast break doesn’t develop the big can cross half-court in his normal 10 second time frame.

    However, if the fast break is available and the Lakers score, the big is actually in the back court resting. This stops the opposing team from getting the ball out of the net and beating our big down the floor because he’s already back and protecting the paint on defense.

    Our guards are going to have to give us something more than a 2012 Lakers Derek Fisher stat-line.

  35. Looking at these other games and watching Lakers last night. Lakers and Pacers are the only teams left who takes forever and a day to get into offense.

  36. perhaps we felt we had too much team leadership, and clutch spot up shooting.

    ___

    Fisher was useless in this offense. He looks good on OKC because they have three elite perimeter players and he plays spot minutes. As a starting PG trying to run traditional sets, he was overmatched. Sessions has not had as much of an impact as I thought he would, I will concede that, but keeping Fisher would have made no difference at all–just like it made no difference at all against Dallas in 2011. The 2010 Finals are over.

    Like I (and others) said when Sessions was brought in, he needs to have a higher USG if he is going to help. The fact that he doesn’t at the moment is on him and the coaches. He needs to play his game instead of “making sure to pound the ball inside no matter what.”

  37. #35 — good post. I keep asking myself why Lakers could run with Kareem, but not Bynum? Ok, obviously not the same players, but Lakers need to adjust the offense to create some mismatches in transition and cause trouble for OKC. Pau can still run and so can Hill. Change the pace and let Bynum catch up, trail, etc for rebounds or as a big cutter through the lane.

    Lakers are so predictable offensively that it lets the defense set up and prepare before them! At this point, nothing to lose in my opinion.

  38. complaining about the officiating is useless especially because the free throw disparity will always go in okc favor. the reason is simple: slashers will always get the call going to the hoop and okc has 3 of them . but if u r a back to the basket player which the lakers all big three are, unless u get realy hammered in there its not getting called

  39. #35 — good post. I keep asking myself why Lakers could run with Kareem, but not Bynum?

    The Lakers didn’t run with Kareem–they ran with Worthy, Scott, and Green, who were collectively worlds faster than MWP, Kobe, and Pau.

    And they had Earvin Johnson as the trigger.

    I can see an argument for an up-tempo second unit with Barnes, Hill, and Sessions all coming in at the same time for MWP, Bynum, and Blake.

  40. Stop with the Brown will adjustments. He dosen’t know how and never has in his career.

  41. MWP was on busting shots in the opening minutes. All his shots came with decisive movement, if I recall. Afterwards, he became spot up and clanked with the rest of the team.

    As long as I’ve seen Ramon he has been terrible on D. He’s playing tentatively but it’s arguable that he has not been put in positions to succeed. I’d rather he play balls to the wall on O and get pulled if things go bad versus being so indecisive. The ball has to be in his hands and he has to get the engine running but he can’t pound the rock for 14 seconds before getting into the offense. They can default to slow-ball any time. This team can’t afford more Steve Blake’s.

    This is a weird team. They have terrible outside shooting but seem to completely forget about movement for long stretches as though they are destined to win. I hope they figure it out because these OKC whoopings are making me take too much grief from my Spur-loving brethren.

  42. So we all agree more Sessions game 2. More Sessions ball handling, PnR’s and all out aggressiveness. Let’s see if that adjustment is made. Seems simple will brown do it.

  43. rr: “just like it made no difference at all against Dallas in 2011. The 2010 Finals are over.”

    Unfortunately we had most of our components in place last year, with the exception of the aforementioned Ramon + Hill. So unless they outplay DF, LO, + SB, I do not like the conclusion to which your logic leads : )

  44. Can you imagine what Spurs would do to Lakers horrible 3 point defenders.

    Kind of glad we don’t have to worry about that.
    Stat: teams in playoffs getting 7 games or more rest aganist team with 1 day rest are 6 and 0 and won by a avarage of 25 points in game one.

    I swear it’s true.

  45. #35 — good post. I keep asking myself why Lakers could run with Kareem, but not Bynum?

    The Lakers didn’t run with Kareem–they ran with Worthy, Scott, and Green, who were collectively worlds faster than MWP, Kobe, and Pau.
    __

    This is only partially true…Kareem was one of the most athletic big men into the early 80′s when the Lakers won their first few rings of the Showtime era. Kareem ran plenty and filled the lane on many a fast break.

    That said, Bynum – especially after his knee injuries and since he’s put on the extra muscle in the past couple of seasons – is not that same caliber of athlete. He can run, but not at the same level that Kareem did. Pau, even as he’s aged, is still better in this regard from possession to possession within a game.

  46. I don’t blame the system as much as the personnel and complimentary pieces. With Kobe and Artest aging and spending most of their time in the paint, that leaves 4 of our 5 starters clogging up the lane. No wonder Sessions can’t be himself, there’s no space for him to drive the lane, and nobody on the perimeter to dish to. Not since Trevor Ariza has a perimeter player thrived on this Lakers squad.

    We’ve gone through 3 years of watching talented guys who are seemingly a good fit for our system all of a sudden look completely lost with the ball in their hands in the half court because they’re looking out on a mine field of help defenders. Farmar, Artest, Blake, Sasha, Shannon Brown, and now Sessions all struggle to find the space to act like a quick, athletic perimeter player.

  47. Spurs have put together a very good team. Wouldn’t it be funny if they win another championship after a lockout.

    Lamenting, the Spurs scouts. They always find young athletic, ball handling shooters.

    Kawhi Leonard is playing and contributing in the playoffs as a rookie. How many years has it been since the Lakers have had a contributing rookie in the playoffs.

  48. Chearn,
    I agree w/ you, but Leonard was also a fringe lottery pick at the 15th pick. The Lakers haven’t picked that high since they drafted Bynum 10th and hadn’t drafted in the top 15 before that since 1994 when they drafted Eddie Jones.

    I understand that’s not the entire point, but it helps when the young players you have contributing also have a bit of a pedigree.

  49. Darius.

    It helps more if you have a front office that knows the game. They get Jackson, Diaw,draft Leonard.

    Lakers get Murphy, McRoberts, Kapono and draft 2 guard that can’t get off the bench.

    Spurs rebuild on the fly while Lakers get worse each year with the worst bench in the NBA.

    Who’s fault is that? The scouts Jim fired?

  50. If it isn’t a sweep I would be surprised. OKC has too much talent and firepower.

  51. Darius: The Spurs have not had a pick better than the 20th pick overall since 1997. Leonard was drafted by the Pacers

    In addition to Bynum, we had the 19th pick in 2007. Used that on Javaris Crittenton (I will leave that alone).

    The Spurs cap # next year is $51 million while ours is $87 million.

  52. It’s hard to separate the Spurs’ FO and their coaching staff, in terms of distributing credit. Diaw was a fat wash-up until Popovich got his hands on him. You can think of Leonard as a fringe lottery pick – or, looking at it another way, the Spurs netted Leonard for an unheralded player they drafted 26th and shaped very well. Their FO is always crafty (the Neal pickup especially) but understand that even if our FO had mimicked some of their moves (e.g. Diaw), we likely wouldn’t have the same results without Pop.

    50 – I don’t really see any way to defend Buss letting those scouts go. By all accounts Chaz is hard working (sounds like MB, doesn’t it?) and only time will reveal his actual scouting acumen. We don’t even have draft picks next year, do we?

  53. Ko,
    No one is saying the Spurs don’t have a smart front office. Though, I’d argue that the Lakers have done quite well for themselves too, historically. Have this year’s moves worked out? Not as well as we all would have hoped. They were also limited, as a tax paying team, what they could spend on free agents.

    As an aside, the Spurs traded for Jackson – a 10 million dollar player, btw – because they gave a pretty bad contract to Richard Jefferson. They also traded for the rights to Leonard by giving up George Hill. Hill was a player the Lakers badly wanted his draft year but the Spurs swooped him up before the Lakers picked. My point is, the Lakers brass do understand talent – though the argument that they’re better in trades and in the draft than in free agency are not lost on me.

    My point is, all franchises – even the Spurs – have some misses on their resumé. They also have hits. The Lakers are in that mix too. Moving forward, we’ll see how this organization does. But they’ve built around Kobe, Pau, and Bynum and then made decisions at the time they thought were best (the Odom trade, the Fisher trade, acquiring Sessions, etc). Some of these I agreed with, some of them I didn’t.

  54. Robert,
    Yes, the Lakers drafted Crittenton. You may want to leave that alone, but I can tell you I was quite happy with that pick. He flashed talent in his first year with the Lakers and Mitch parlayed that talent into part of the package that got Gasol. Just like Marc Gasol – who was drafted by the Lakers in the 2nd round.

    We can go round and round about this but Mitch and, yes, Jim Buss (along with many others) helped build a core of back to back champions (while Mitch was in on the ground floor of the three-peat team from the early 2000′s).

    And yes, the Lakers have a high cap figure next year. Most of that is due to Kobe’s 27 million on the books. Would you rather the Lakers don’t have that number on their books? As an aside, one reason the Spurs cap number is that low next year is because Duncan’s contract is expiring. This year he made 21.5 million. If his contract were running into next year, his salary would be upwards of 24 million. Add that number to their cap and tell me where they’d be.

    You also like to rail on the front office but consistently leave out key variables when doing a wide sweeping analysis of where this team stands.

  55. Ok

    Just wondering other then AB who the last draft choice tbe Lakers have made that is now helping tbe team. Based on my math that is 21 picks in the last 7-years without a hit.

    Good thing thus is not baseball because that’s about a .040 avarge.

    Good thing it’s not dart throwing or there would be a lot if dead people.

    Good thing it not carpet bombing or—-ah never mind.

    You get the picture.

  56. Ko,
    Yes I do get the picture. The Lakers currently don’t have a lot of draft picks on their roster that are helping them. Hmm, I wonder if that has anything to do with them trading picks for Gasol (who helped with 2 rings) and the fact that Phil Jackson was the coach for about a decade and wanted specific types of players in the draft who didn’t always pan out, but seem to do well in other places. Farmar’s PER was over 18 for the Nets this year. As an aside, Phil was also a coach that preferred veteran players as opposed to rookies/young players.

  57. Snoopy

    If in fact you are right Snoopy then we are back to square one as it of course was the front office(ie Jim) that hired the coach, coaching staff and scouts that brought us Murphy, McRoberts, Kapono etc that make up the worst bench and perhaps a giant question mark wondering back and forth in front of that bad bench.

    It appears are discussion has gone full circle which of course gives due credit to Robert!

  58. The Lakers somehow always seem to be trading away their draft picks, especially 1st rounders’. There was a league rule or still is, that a team had to have a 1st round pick at least every other year, but I swear I cannot think of any 1st rounders’ that the Lakers have drafted and kept in recent times (last half a decade, at least). Or, when they do get draft picks, they are always in the late 20’s (since we are a Playoff team most seasons), like Farmar, Crittenton, I wish they would keep the few that they get.

    I think Sessions would be better off running with the bench squad with Pau, that is what happened to him.

  59. Mike Brown needs to take the reins off Ramon Sessions and let him be the basketball player his is.
    He is a push it up and a Pick&Roll point guard. When he does the things that he is comfortable doing, he’s an above average player. When he is doing what Mike Brown is telling him to do (slow it down. Initiate the offense, blah blah blah) he’s below average.

    Players are who they are. We see it with Kobe and Pau and Andrew. And we have seen who Ramon Sessions can be.
    Mike Brown won’t let Ramon be Ramon.

    Another thing regarding matching up with OKC. It’s obvious that Kobe HAS to guard Westbrook the majority of the time and that Metta HAS to guard Durant most of the time. The question is who guards them AFTER.
    Matt Barnes MAY be able to spell Kobe on Westbrook. But there is no way in hell that Barnes can guard Durant. Durant is way too long for Barnes.
    I think Mike Brown HAS to give Ebanks a shot at guarding both Durant and Westbrook.
    And when OKC brings in Fish and or Daquan Cook I think giving GLock a little run would be interesting.

    And lastly, why in the hell are the Lakers playing a BACK TO BACK on Friday and Saturday?
    WTF?

  60. Kareem ran plenty and filled the lane on many a fast break.

    Perhaps, but notice that I mentioned Worthy, Scott, and Green–starters on the later teams, not the early ones. Also, McAdoo played a lot on the early teams.

    There will be a time to talk about the FO–probably starting Sunday, unfortunately. Any eval of the FO must include the Paul deal and veto–that changed the franchise for a long time to come, and it was unquestionably the right move for the Lakers.

    But Kupchak has often had issues with the back end of the roster. That was true from 2002-2004 and it is true again now. I think one thing the the Lakers need to do is to do a better job internationally. The new CBA will reduce the long deals to role players.

    As to Kobe, he is an icon, but neither he nor Pau is really worth his deal, looking strictly at production and money at this point.

  61. Sessions said on a TNT interview he would be guarding Westbrook and new PnR coverages would be implemented. Can’t wait to see those. Brown may finally show us his defensive prowess.

    A lot of basketball is still left I wouldn’t throw the dirt on Lakers just yet.

    rr: Kobe is worth it. How many guys can you pen in 25 points from the perimeter every night? Not counting assists. 5. He’s well worth it. A few other players aren’t.

  62. At 27m and then 30m? Like I said, strictly in terms of production, no. In terms of who he is and revenue generation, quite arguably, yes.

  63. anti Dwyer Abbott May 16, 2012 at 12:51 am

    @63
    In terms of who he is and revenue generation absolutamente yes.

  64. 58 – I definitely understand the frustration. But by my count, over the last 2 decades we’ve earned 1 more title than the Spurs. And if we’re only looking recently, then the landscape changes very fast. Up until this year, Spurs fans had many legitimate complaints:

    For years now (the same way our FO struggled to find a PG), their FO struggled to find a good young center to play next to Duncan. Splitter was over-hyped for years, and then he came over to America and people saw he wasn’t the answer. The Spurs gave Luis Scola away to the Rockets for nothing. They never found an adequate replacement for Bruce Bowen; Udoka turned out not to be the answer.

    So it cuts both ways. I was a member at a Spurs blog during our 2009 run and remember many fans frustrated with these problems.

    There’s an interesting interview with Kobe up on ESPN about why he doesn’t take charges, for anyone who hasn’t seen. Interesting glimpse into his mindset. I’m not sure if anyone’s found a correlation between taking charges and back problems, but Kobe’s constant calculations and drive for longevity never cease to amaze me.

  65. I wish Mike would just stop trying so hard to get Bynum involve with the offense, sure he is efficient as getting point but at the same time it is better to just tell him to just play D 100% while letting the ball get to him on the flow of Gasol, Kobe, and Session movement. Like more lob instead of post up and slowing the tempo the a point where everyone is just pretty much standing around without actually trying to dive or anything….

  66. Warren Wee Lim May 16, 2012 at 6:28 am

    I really don’t like to talk much Lakers… atleast not after we win game 2, then I can tell you all I told you so.

    Re: Spurs/lockout

    If you guys find that any way ironic, do not forget that the Eastern 8th seed has also upset the #1 seed and has just stolen a game from their 2nd round opponent. If the stars play such a sick joke on the cosmic alignments, then it means the Spurs are meeting the 76ers this year.

    $1 vs $1000?

  67. @67

    and who will be the replacement of the missing Ewing on the Philly team? Iggy? :-)

  68. When you have a lot of post players you can use this offensive that has the triple post…..never mind.

  69. Darius: Thanks for the response. I think the original point (by Chearn) was that the Spurs have done very well with their picks and their personnel management. I agree with that point. We have actually had “slightly” better pick positions. With regard to the FO; Yes I have pounded on them, but as you know “most” of my ire goes to Jimbo. I think Mitch is working under strict parameters. As far as the FO long term success, that is certainly a fact. However, much of that credit (not all) needs to go to Jerry West and Jerry Buss. The 5 titles of this era have been Shaq/Kobe and then Kobe lead teams (both Jerry/Jerry era additions). Comparing the Lakers and the Spurs. The Lakers have achieved success with a series of legendary deals or picks that they acquired through deals. The Spurs have done this largely with small deals and their own picks. I certainly would not trade our history for theirs : ) however at this point, it appears as though they have taken the most recent battle when comparing the FO results.

  70. I’m glad someone (Darius) brought this up after I did a few days ago. But as I wrote then… It’s not just pace… It’s property as Darius noted. Ramon is a true PG who needs property of the ball and offense. He is a a Steve Blake spot up SG. He is a point guard. Let Ramon freaking run the offense!!!! That’s what he was brought in for. When he was allowed to run the point he turned this league average offense into a powerhouse scoring machine. Why go back? Maybe it’s because his teammates were jealous of his dominating of the basketball?

  71. rr,
    From a basketball standpoint Kobe is not worth his deal. From a money standpoint Kobe is def worth his deal. He brings in the dollars. As for Pau… He isn’t worth his deal from any standpoint. Unfortunaltey that’s also why we can’t trade him as hard as we have tried. Its better for the Lakers to eat his slalary amd continue getting production from the sixth best PF in the NBA.

  72. rr: Lakers aren’t even a playoff team in the west without Kobe. 27 hurts and 30 is expiring. Those numbers equate wins. Blake, McRoberts, Ron those are vet salary guys at this point.

  73. Well, What happened to Ramon Sessions is what will happen to any PG that is coming to this team until Pau Gasol goes. Pau Gasol is not a power forward, he is a Skinny center. With Pau Gasol in the team, you can never go small, that means sitting BOTH Gasol & Bynum at the same tim,e and no one of our coach + assistants even consider this as an alternative. What we have then, having to make an extraordinary effort with these players to win a game. Yes, we will win tonight, but with a real effort combine from all, Kobe, Sessions, MWP, Pau & Bynum. then the result is not encouraging facing a back to back with all that energy used. Yes, adjustment will be made, Sessions will play better today but the damage has already been made.

  74. good one marques!!!

  75. LOL, if we ripped off aonyne it’s the announcers that mentioned the dance, cassell, etc.Never even seen your site in my life until today!Thanks for the link? I guess